Saturday, September 30, 2023
HomeWORLD NEWSThe Risks of AI in Health Care and ‘Oppenheimer’

The Risks of AI in Health Care and ‘Oppenheimer’

All excellent stories have intricate conclusions. However, this does not preclude them from providing straightforward and instructive lessons. “Oppenheimer,” Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus, focuses on the tragic tale of the “father of the atomic bomb.

However, it is also a tale of how the United States wasted an opportunity to be a world leader in the development of an innovation that would define the 20th century.

This century will be defined by transformative technologies, particularly artificial intelligence, and J. Robert Oppenheimer’s tale provides particularly pertinent lessons for healthcare executives, entrepreneurs, and policymakers.

Read also: Most oil evacuated from a deteriorating tanker off Yemen: United Nations

The nuclear power race characterized Oppenheimer’s era, whereas the competition in artificial intelligence technology defines ours. Both technologies are potent instruments that will alter the course of human history.

In another unsettling resemblance to Oppenheimer’s era, political actors who shape national innovation policies appear uninterested in or are politicizing the nuances of science.

This politicking has made it more difficult to engage in constructive dialogue about the future of healthcare innovation. This is already occurring with the misinformation surrounding mRNA technology and the persistent harassment of scientists.

More than a dozen healthcare companies are currently utilizing ChatGPT, an OpenAI-developed AI-powered chatbot, for a variety of purposes. However, the consequences of integrating these large language models into health functions are not completely understood.

Surprisingly, the majority of ongoing discussions on AI policymaking and regulation have centered on leaders from the technology industry and have not fully utilized the expertise of leaders from the healthcare industry, who have unique insights on the application of AI to health and medicine.

This reminded me of a potent scene from the film Oppenheimer,” in which the title character attempts to convince President Truman of the dangers of nuclear power, but his concerns are dismissed.

Legislators are under additional pressure to act due to the media’s coverage of these rapid technological advancements and consumer data utilization concerns. Last week, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sen.

Read also: Alabama’s Nick Saban calls Lee Hodges after his 3M Open victory on the PGA Tour

Elizabeth Warren acknowledged that “Congress is too slow and lacks tech expertise” and emphasized the necessity of establishing a bipartisan regulatory agency via the Digital Consumer Protection Commission Act.

This ignores the point of why these safeguards are necessary for AI applications and healthcare endeavors. Studies continue to demonstrate how tools based on machine learning can result in inappropriate medical care.

The narrative of J. Robert Oppenheimer illustrated that there is a disconnect between the goals of science—such as transparency, collaboration, and truth-seeking—and the ever-changing goals of politics. Understanding this is especially important now as the public continues to learn how AI will transform industries such as healthcare.

However, a lack of clarity regarding how these changes will affect patient care can lead to an atmosphere of dread and mistrust, ultimately stifling innovation, as health is much more personal than the economy.

Healthcare leaders who use these technologies to develop digital applications can play an essential role as science communicators, for instance, by including a section in their communication materials describing what patients can expect from their technology.

Finally, we must refocus our digital innovation efforts on closing gaps in healthcare disparities and take precautions to prevent further marginalization of vulnerable populations.

During the time of the Trinity Test, the narrative of Oppenheimer also served as a reminder of the suffering caused to the Hispanic and Native American communities in New Mexico.

Recent research indicates that the use of digital algorithms in healthcare decision-making can exacerbate inequalities. Entrepreneurs and policymakers in the healthcare technology industry must ensure that all bias mitigation strategies, including the deployment of representative datasets for the development of digital applications, are implemented to prevent negative outcomes for marginalized patients. This is also one of the most efficient methods for digital health companies to establish credibility.

We are at a turning point in the application of these technologies to health care, similar to Oppenheimer’s experience with the application of nuclear power to weapons. Political and scientific leaders at the time were unaware of the far-reaching consequences of nuclear innovations.

Currently, we are having a similar discussion. A few executives in the technology sector have argued for a halt to generative AI research and development.

This approach places the United States at a competitive disadvantage internationally and does not address the foundational issues associated with integrating this technology into various applications.

A more effective preventive measure to mitigate potential negative repercussions would be to convene the appropriate stakeholders, develop frameworks to guide the direction of this incredible technology and establish global data partnerships that establish the norms for the future use of these tools.

The lessons learned from past blunders can provide the direction necessary for planning the next steps. Observe “Oppenheimer” and take copious notes if you want to innovate in AI for healthcare.

Junaid Nabi is a physician and healthcare strategist who serves on the World Health Organization’s Working Group on Regulatory Considerations for Digital Health and Innovation. He is a senior fellow at the Aspen Institute’s New Voices program and a millennium fellow at the Atlantic Council.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments